How I Spent My Summer

Editors Note: The following was written by Center for Rural Affairs Policy Intern, Liz Lesher. At the end of August Liz will return to school at Smith College in Massachusetts.

I spent 10 weeks working at the Center for Rural Affairs. I’ve learned more than I could have imagined about the complex economics that affect rural communities and more than I’d like to know about how hogs are slaughtered. I’ve learned that politics isn’t about the best policy. I’ve heard politicians evade questions so well you would think they were paid to do it.

At times, I have wondered why it is so difficult to accomplish what seems so straightforward and practical. There are competition laws to be enforced and payments to be limited. But while agribusiness consolidation continues all across the Midwest, the shop is closed and the farmhouse is abandoned. Few people see what has been lost and few profit from what is reaped.

Every week I was here, I wondered what has been lost in the towns I’ll never visit or on the farms I’ll never see, and I worried. At school, I study what people believe and how they apply those beliefs. I believe that the people and the land deserve more. I believe that rural America can be beautiful and strong, vibrant and diverse. It was my job to help, and I hope I did.

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